It won’t go immediately behind the paywall, at least?
Oh sure, Sony buying Bungie was big buyout business news yesterday, but the real mega-acquisition of the day was Wordle. The New York Times, a hardcopy blog, are buying the viral hit word puzzle game for “an undisclosed price in the low-seven figures.” They say it will be free when it moves under their banner, though it’s not clear if it will stay that way.
Wordle has made the biggest cultural splash of any video game I’ve seen in years. More than Animal Crossing, more than Pokémon, more than Devil Daggers, I’ve seen pals and relations who usually never talk about (or play?) games posting about Wordle on social media. That’s partially down to the masterstroke of sharing solutions (those grids of green and yellow blocks you’ve likely seen) spreading the conversation, but also because it’s really good and people like it.
Basically an online version of the game show Lingo, Wordle is a puzzle game which offers you six attempts to guess a mystery word. If you guess a letter in the right spot it’ll be flagged with a green block, and if you guess a right letter in the wrong place it’ll be yellow. Each puzzle runs for one day, with all players guessing at the same word. You can play it free in your browser over here. As the NYT reported earlier this year, creator Josh Wardle was partially inspired by his partner’s fondness for the NYT’s puzzles.
“If you’ve followed along with the story of Wordle, you’ll know that New York Times Games play a big part in its origins, and so this step feels very natural to me,” Wardle said in the NYT’s announcement. “I’ve long admired The Times’s approach to the quality of their games and the respect with which they treat their players. Their values are aligned with mine on these matters and I’m thrilled that they will be stewards of the game moving forward.”
The pulp-pushers say, “At the time it moves to The New York Times, Wordle will be free to play for new and existing players, and no changes will be made to its gameplay.” But that doesn’t mean changes won’t come later. I would be very surprised if the NYT don’t want to use it to push their paywalled Games section.
A subscription to the NYT Games section costs 75p per week or £25 a year. While Wordle won’t be part of that at first, yeah, I would probably expect it to be added to their roster of paid puzzle games. The NYT recently announced they hit one million Games subscribers.
Should that happen, I suppose you could switch to one of the many clones or variants which have sprung up. These include the adversarial Absurdle and sweary Sweardle. I also liked how the game inspired a tool to display your Wordle results as a Townscaper town.
p.s. don’t worry, the grid I used for the header image up there ↑ was yesterday’s puzzle. I know people take spoilers seriously.